The Last DJ

It's always sort of tough to rally behind an artist dissin' the music industry—I mean, how do you support someone who's living a rock star's life but still complaining, right?

It's always sort of tough to rally behind an artist dissin' the music industry—I mean, how do you support someone who's living a rock star's life but still complaining, right? But Tom Petty makes it all too easy here, slyly balancing bitter references to modern-day payola, shifty execs, and even the struggles of artists over 40 with wistful imagery of rock'n'roll dreams. Walking that line beautifully is "Money Becomes King," a strummy midtempo featuring a brilliantly sarcastic lyric about chatty VIPs, waiters, and wine in the gold-circle seats. More venomous is the mean "Joe" (a slam on major-label CEOs) and the title cut. Thankfully, the pretty ballad "Blue Sunday" and the sweet, piano-dusted "You and Me," among others, give us a break from the music biz. One would like to think that these would be the most timeless of the 12 songs here; but, sadly, the state of the music biz seems to suggest that songs like "The Last DJ" will still be relevant decades from now.—WO